Tommy Pham is the kind of guy you love to see make it to the big leagues because he’s such a good guy, and because he was so persistent on his way up through the minors.
He has played parts of 9 seasons in the minors before getting a cup of coffee last year, when he was called up and played 6 games for the Cardinals. He was sent back to AAA this year, his 10th season in the minors. He has played 747 games at various levels and in various leagues in the minors, putting up a .755 OPS over all that time. Just think of all the bus trips he probably went on in 10 years in the minors. Minor leaguers don’t make much so you have to truly love the game to play that long in the minors, and honestly it shows. You can tell he is genuinely loving his time in the majors.
He did come up through the Quad Cities farm teams. I remember him because of his unique name. He played here in 2007 when the team was still called the Swing of the Quad Cities, and then again in 2008 when they switched to the River Bandits. Those were his age 19 and 20 seasons. He did well in 2008, putting up a .727 OPS and hitting 17 home runs.
He did finally graduate to high A in 2008, and played there all of 2009 and part of 2010 before finally graduating to AA. This was emblematic of his whole minor league career. The gradual climb through the minors continued really all the way until this season.
Baseball Passport tells me that I saw him play in 11 different games between 2007 and 2008. He did awful for the most part! He was only 3 for 31 in these games, but two of these hits were home runs. The best game was on 8/10/2008 he went 2 for 3 with a solo HR and 4 RBI. The Bandits won that game 7-6. Then he scored the winning run of a wild walk-off win on 8/31/2008. He pinch ran in the bottom of the 9th after the Francisco Rivera led off the inning with a double, and scored when Niko Vasquez drove him in for the game-winner. It was a wild game. The Bandits trailed 9-5 in the 7th inning and won 11-10.
Pham has been on fire for the Cardinals which prompted me to write this post. In 123 plate appearances he has an .809 OPS this year with 12 extra base hits.